Giving the Amish Ammunition

I am torn between writing my observations on the Collective Soul concert I went to on Saturday evening or writing about the Internet. I'm probably one of the few people nerdy enough to go to a rock concert and actually analyze the event, people, music and philosophical message. My favorite concert of all time would certainly have to be REO Speedwagon and Styx where the lead singer of REO profoundly told us that during this time of terrorism and strife we should all love each other. Profound. Too bad Jesus beat him to the punch on that one! Odd how philosophy coupled with drunks climbing posts and ripping their shirts off don't seem to mix, isn't it?

But alas, I have really been wanting to talk about online communication. As most of you know, one of my many plans for my life is to go to grad school and get a degree in sociology so I can study the effects that the Internet has had on people. This desire came after observing the dramatic change that came across the OC campus from pre-laptop era to the post-laptop era. Now people from my younger brother's class can probably not fathom a time where they didn't IM or email each other on campus, but I'm here to tell you that reality existed not but four years ago.

What fascinates me most is how people change and how situations change over the Internet. People seem to be much more free with what they say online then when they are in public. Once shy people now feel license to release all those pent up ideas they might have. People you might normally never talk to be it that cute girl in science class, your ex-girlfriend, or my extremely cool brother Marc are now approachable.

Obviously there are some positive and negative side effects of this digital revolution. Perhaps the most positive side effect is that it gives people an outlet of communicating. People whose voice would never have been heard can sign up with a blog and write long essays such as this to feel like they're contributing to the world in some way. People who are too shy or awkward in social situations can now make friends that otherwise might not have been possible. People who have a hard time dating can go to match.com or eHarmony.com and date very attractive women (or at least that's what the ads have me believe). Great stuff!

There is an old adage in religion that anything good can be abused and turned into evil. Pretty much that's what sin is, a good thing gone wrong, but that's a random tangent we won't chase today. But the positive effects just mentioned are conversely the negative side effects as well. Suddenly people stop having face-to-face communication and spend more time communicating through IM, email or blogging than in real life. People can become aggressive online and say things they wouldn't dare in public since all social rules are now discarded. Writing and content becomes sloppy as people start to have 'IM think', as I like to call it.

True, that's one side of the pendulum to the other, I'm just intrigued by it all. From Xanga websites to Blogspots, from online dating to IM and chat rooms, and even to RPG the Internet has certainly changed life as we know it. As with all technology we must ask ourselves if it's been for better or worse? One way or the other don't expect me to become a Luddite anytime soon.


Maddux said...

The introduction of laptops to the OC campus has definitely had an affect on how people interact with one another. I was not at OC during the pre-laptop era, but the laptop era is in full swing. IM is the most common method of communication whether it be for finding out the answer to a homework problem, meeting up for dinner, or even asking someone out on a date (guilty as charged!). Perhaps we should all become Luddites and remove ourselves from the technological revolution. Life would be a lot simpler and perhaps more meaningful.

ann said...

I for one am extremely grateful at the means of communication that technology has provided for us. I don't care if life would be simpler without it-- my life would be sadder because I wouldn't be able to communicate with my friends! So I for one will just be thankful and continue my blogging and emailing.
Of course I will grant that we can take any good thing and abuse it. It blows my mind in hindsight when I think about the times I would IM my friends with a conversation when I could have actually been spending quality time with them. You live and learn, I guess.